I think I mentioned before how the bees don’t seem to do anything you expect them to be doing? Well, wait until you hear what my bees are up to: they’re EXPLODING!!
I took advantage of a sunny day, minimal wind and looked at both hives. We started with Demeter this time, I can’t remember why but I had a plan which of course went to smithereens when I looked in there. Sigh.
Goals for the hive inspection for Demeter: switch out the orange medium hive body for a newly painted purple medium (so it can all match finally) and probably add a shallow with some drawn frames and undrawn frames (plastic foundation from the initial donation from Peter). Check for brood, assess honey stores, check for swarm preparations (swarm cells, not enough room to expand).
- Set-up initially: Two deeps, one full medium super (honey)
- Queen spotted: Yes
- Frames of brood: 4 in top medium (capped brood and larvae), remainder was honey and pollen, top deep had 4 frames of eggs and larvae, a very interesting column of drone brood and dry queen cups, bottom deep had 4 frames of eggs and open brood.
- Type of brood: larvae, capped, eggs
- Frames of bees: >16
Overall Impression: There were a lot of bees, the hive looks great, very healthy and very few hive beetles. I had installed the Freeman Hive Beetle Trap underneath this hive and though it’s working well, I need to level the hive stand more.
Regarding space: the 2 deeps and one medium are clearly not enough space. There were a few unworked frames in the deeps, but overall, they clearly could use more space as everything was filling up rapidly.They’re building out the foundationless frames beautifully and the cell sizes are HUGE. Lots of drone cells in the top medium.
We switched out the orange box for a purple one moving all of the frames over. We added a shallow with partially drawn plastic foundation. So the final set-up was: 2 deeps, one medium and one shallow.
The column of drone brood, isn't that fascinating?
Very large honey cells. They also had a lot of drone brood. See how they attached the bottom of the comb? This is a foundationless frame, there are paint stirrers that act as guides for straight comb building. Looks good!
Dry queen cups. They have built "just in case" queen cups that they would use if they planned to swarm. They had these last season even though they were too small to swarm and had no stores and plenty of room. The bees like to keep their options open. I refer to the cups as "dry" because there was no larva.
- Set-up initially: One deep, one full medium super (honey)
- Queen spotted: No
- Frames of brood: 8 frames in the medium that used to be only honey, there was open and capped brood, remainder was honey and pollen. The deep had 6 frames of brood.
- Type of brood: larvae, capped, eggs
- Frames of bees: >14
Two weeks ago I checkerboarded the medium that was full of honey. Within that time frame, they built out all of the foundationless frames and filled it with the 8 frames of brood, 8! Though this split the brood nest, we added a full deep with partially drawn wax foundation. We added another medium on top with checkerboarded foundationless frames and 3 honey frames. Within seconds the bees were in this topmost medium, checking things out. So the final set-up consists of 2 deeps and 2 mediums.
There was so much drone brood, I think making the nuc this Saturday should work out well. I’ve read that you make nucs when you see walking drones. Using bee math, we can estimate when the drone brood would be expected to emerge. This is how: we saw capped drone cells on 3/27, assuming the cells were capped the 26th (very conservative estimate), they would emerge on April 9th because drones take 14 days to pupate. In all likelihood, the capped cells were older and the drone would emerge sooner. The drones would be at the DCA ~38 days after being laid as an egg or 14 days after emergence (give or take a few days). Let’s assume the drones emerge the 9th, which means they would be at a DCA looking for a queen on April 23rd.
If we made a nuc on Saturday April 7th, the new queen would emerge about 16 days later, so April 23rd. She takes about 5 days to get the lay of the land and get used to things before she goes on her mating flight. We can estimate that the soonest the virgin queen would be at a DCA is April 28th. This is a lovely cushion for mating our queen. There are other hives in the area so she should have many opportunities for success 😉
Drone brood. Looking at my pictures, I haven't seen any walking drones but with all those coming drones, welcome to SPRING!